Today is part 2 of the Nature of Emotion, read part 1 first if you haven’t already done so. You can find that here: https://scienceofcopywriting.com/copywriting/the-nature-of-emotion-part-1-copywriting-guide/
There’s a famous cartoon showing Rupert Murdoch sitting at a table with a large pile of cash in front of him. He’s saying to a peasant sitting opposite who has nothing: “see those people over there, they’re the ones who are stealing your money”.
This tactic is classic propaganda. Whatever you don’t want people to hear, tell them the opposite. If you’ve got the money people want, tell them it’s their enemies who have the money (and if they vote for you, you’ll make sure they get it back).
The emotion we’re evoking is fury. If we want to fight a war, we need the mob on our side, and we need them to be as furious as possible (strong enough to lay down their lives).
Patriotism and nationalism are the two words most closely associated with this method (it’s the number one tool in the fascists armoury). The whole thing is based on fear, which a) is why it’s bad, and b) is why it works. If you can make people fearful they’ll lose everything, you’ll fire them up enough to do something about it.
Hitler added socialism to the list because he knew to be socialist means to be caring, so what better term to use in the wake of the Great Depression to sound like you actually care?
So the Nationalist Socialist party was formed, the lying, cheating, and stealing began, and the rest is history. Hitler helped demonise socialism, by demonstrating the opposite of what it is, and the same is happening today as we’re being constantly told that socialists are only in it for themselves and are the very evil of the world.
We are easily fooled into doing things (even things we’d not normally do) if it fits in with our beliefs. So beliefs are at the heart of propaganda. That means we must start by looking at the outcome we want, then figure out what beliefs need to be in place to achieve it.
Armed with that, we can then pick the best strategy to make that happen, and of all the strategies known on the planet, there is none better than divide and conquer. It’s all done with labels, so the next task is to discover the most divisive labels we can find and put them to work (for politicians, it starts with left vs right, republican vs democrat, conservative vs socialist etc.).
We then dig deeper into the labels to discover the ones that mean the most to the audience we’re trying to motivate, and enhance those labels any way we can to add more emotion to our argument (eg. “hateful extreme leftwing trotskyite socialists”).
Of course, it goes without saying that we’d never lie, cheat, or steal to get what we want because we understand the third pillar of philosophy – Ethics, and we know that the only life worth living is one of honesty – the only way to attain real satisfaction.
PS. As I’ve said before, there are heroes and villains. The villains are easy to spot because they lie, cheat, and steal, but never underestimate the power of beliefs and our ability to change them en-masse regardless of which side of the fence we’re on.